Blog > SACHA Statement in Solidarity with Unhoused Community Members and Arrested Youth Activists

SACHA Statement in Solidarity with Unhoused Community Members and Arrested Youth Activists

December 15, 2021

The Sex­u­al Assault Cen­tre (Hamil­ton and Area) — SACHA is com­mit­ted to the fight against sex­u­al vio­lence and oppres­sion. We rec­og­nize that sex­u­al vio­lence and its inter­sec­tions are upheld by social inequal­i­ties, includ­ing those of race, pover­ty, and home­less­ness that cre­ate con­di­tions of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty that pro­duce sex­u­al vio­lence. As such, we rec­og­nize the advo­ca­cy of the vol­un­teers with the Encamp­ment Sup­port Net­work here in Hamil­ton to advo­cate for unhoused neigh­bours and echo the calls of Black com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers to:

a) the Hamil­ton Police to uncon­di­tion­al­ly drop the charges against all six activists; 

b) the Hamil­ton Police Board and/​or Attor­ney Gen­er­al to open a judi­cial inquiry into the actions of all police present at JC Beemer Park on Novem­ber 24th and at the Hamil­ton Police Sta­tion (HPS) on Novem­ber 26th

c) final­ly, we call on the City of Hamil­ton and Coun­cil to demand the imme­di­ate end to encamp­ment evic­tions and to rec­og­nize the harm to Indige­nous, Black and low income residents.

The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has intro­duced new chal­lenges and bar­ri­ers to the already vul­ner­a­ble unhoused com­mu­ni­ty. Over the past year, tem­po­rary mea­sures to home­less­ness, includ­ing the often vio­lent evic­tions, have been employed with lit­tle regard for the well­be­ing of the evict­ed. On numer­ous occa­sions, peo­ple have had their sole pos­ses­sions destroyed or dis­card­ed by police and city work­ers. While some shel­ter beds have been pro­vid­ed, shel­ters are fre­quent­ly at capac­i­ty dur­ing the cold win­ter months, leav­ing many with nowhere to go. Addi­tion­al­ly we see that even when shel­ter space is avail­able there are so many bar­ri­ers pre­vent­ing many from access­ing it. We know that shel­ters are not a solu­tion to home­less­ness. Many unhoused peo­ple, espe­cial­ly women and Two-Spir­it and LGBTQIA+ youth, find them­selves in these pre­car­i­ous and vul­ner­a­ble posi­tions as they flee vio­lence in the home. Stud­ies on home­less people’s expe­ri­ences of sex­u­al vio­lence finds rates as high as 35 times that of housed peo­ple.1 Encoun­ter­ing vio­lence by police as they flee vio­lence and seek a safe place to stay is fur­ther trau­ma­tiz­ing. Addi­tion­al­ly we know that Black and Indige­nous peo­ple are over rep­re­sent­ed in encamp­ments and face the addi­tion­al threat of racist vio­lence, and are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly crim­i­nal­ized. As such we vehe­ment­ly con­demn the vio­lent actions tak­en by police at JC Beemer Park, the Hamil­ton Cen­tral Police Sta­tion, and the lack of recog­ni­tion of their con­tin­ued vio­lence of crim­i­nal­iz­ing Black and racial­ized advocates.

Sex­u­al vio­lence is both a pub­lic health and social issue that is exac­er­bat­ed by the lack of acces­si­ble, safe, and dig­ni­fied hous­ing. Dr. Andrew Bond, Direc­tor of the Inner City Health Asso­ciates (ICHA) observed that encamp­ment evic­tions vio­lat­ed human rights law, re-trau­ma­tized vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions and com­pro­mised their access to health ser­vices”.1 The use of encamp­ment evic­tions main­tains the idea that the prob­lem are the unhoused, rather than a holis­tic approach to home­less­ness that address­es it at the source. As such we abhor the use of encamp­ment evic­tions, the destruc­tion of prop­er­ty, and the sham­ing of unhoused neigh­bours as a solu­tion to home­less­ness. Instead, we will con­tin­ue to advo­cate for the City of Hamil­ton to offer long term solu­tions that respect the dig­ni­ty and human rights of unhoused indi­vid­u­als and rec­og­nized that our com­mu­ni­ties deserve more.

1. https://​www​.icha​-toron​to​.ca/​e​g​r​e​g​i​o​u​s​-​e​n​c​a​m​p​m​e​n​t​-​e​v​i​c​t​i​o​n​s​-​v​i​o​l​a​t​e​-​h​u​m​a​n​-​r​i​g​h​t​s​-​a​n​d​-​p​o​s​e​-​h​e​a​l​t​h​-​risks